February 04, 2005

Idaho To Receive Sage Grouse Management Funds

Crapo, Craig praise recognition of Western sage grouse conservation programs

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig applauded todayâ??s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of $500,000 to fund Idaho sage grouse habitat protection efforts. The funds are part of $2 million the USDA will make available in Idaho, Utah, Washington and Colorado for special projects to help protect sage grouse habitat. State and local partnerships will provide technical and additional financial assistance for the projects. "Private landowners, state wildlife managers, and other partners in Idaho and across the West are making special efforts to manage the sage grouse,â?? said Crapo, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Endangered Species Act. â??The partnership of the federal government is welcome, and I appreciate this latest in a series of helpful moves. Recent statistics show that populations of this game bird have shrunk but now appear to be stable. Idaho will use this help to bring numbers back up." â??This money will help to further enhance sage grouse habitat while ensuring the economic viability of Idahoâ??s rural communities,â?? Craig said. â??Listing the sage grouse would have devastating impacts across the Intermountain West, and this work is another step in demonstrating we can manage sage grouse habitat without being hog-tied by the Endangered Species Act.â?? Crapo and Craig have both taken part in a western coalition supporting sage grouse. Each Senator holds oversight jurisdiction on important aspects of sage grouse management: Crapo, through the federal wildlife management program, and Craig, through the public lands system. Idaho has been a leader in sage grouse recovery efforts. Starting with a management plan in 1997, Idaho now has Local Working Groups and a statewide task force to advise Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Governorâ??s Office of Species Conservation on coordinated endangered or threatened species activities across Idaho. This effort â?? led by many landowners -- has begun producing identifiable results such as the reseeding of sage brush that is key to sage grouse survival. This effort has been coordinated across state lines in partnership with Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nevada. The funds come as part of the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). GRP is a voluntary conservation program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency that helps preserve and enhance grassland, rangeland, shrubland and certain other lands. Through GRP, agricultural producers can help protect and enhance habitat for sage grouse and other grassland-dependent species with declining populations. # # #